Sunday, November 18, 2018

Mickey Mouse turns 90

For this week's Sunday entertainment feature, I'm celebrating Mickey Mouse's birthday with Offhand Disney's Mickey Mouse's 90th Birthday: 1928 to 2018.

November 18th is a very special day. Mickey Mouse turns 90 years old, and I figured what better way to celebrate than to follow the mouse himself through his entire life. From Plane Crazy to the Runaway Railway, we'll talk about it all.
I'm not done with this event, as I might write about Mickey Mouse balloons in the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade.  Stay tuned.  In the meantime, happy birthday, Mickey!

California's Camp and Woolsey fires air pollution seen from space and felt on ground

While I've been busy with national and Michigan stories, I've been avoiding writing about a major story that is taking place where I grew up, the latest destructive fires in California.  No more, as I found out last week that the home where I grew up was in a mandatory evacuation zone.  In the 25 years I lived there, that never happened.  In addition, I don't recall my family ever telling me that had happened during the three decades I've lived in Michigan until this past week.*  When I write that this story hits close to home, I mean it!

I begin with Popular Science, which uploaded This is What Wildfires Look Like from Space.

Satellites have captured images the wildfires currently devastating California. The Camp fire is the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in the state's history. Meanwhile, the Woolsey and Hill fires are raging in southern California. The size and destructiveness of the blazes can be seen by NASA satellites.
When I wrote 2018 on track to be fourth-warmest ever, I quoted Newsy observing "The heat certainly contributed to California's intense wildfire season."  Popular Science agrees with that assessment, as do I.  I have no patience for views that deny that, including the President's.

Follow over the jump for video reports about each of the fires currently or recently burning, beginning with the Camp Fire.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Seth Meyers checks in on Andrew Wheeler as Trump announces he'll nominate Wheeler for permanent head of EPA

Last April, I observed that then-EPA Adminstrator Scott Pruitt was in a precarious position.
Scott Pruitt is in the middle of an ethics scandal over a sweetheart deal with an energy lobbyist over renting a room for cheap.  He might be fired.  He could instead replace Jeff Sessions as Attorney General.  This is a fluid situation, so stay tuned.
Pruitt resigned in July and his deputy Andrew Wheeler replaced him as acting Administrator.  Yesterday, President Trump announced that he plans on making that promotion permanent.
President Donald Trump announced Friday he plans to nominate the acting chief of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler, to permanently lead the agency.

Trump announced the move during a Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House, where he introduced Wheeler along with other top administration officials in attendance.

"Acting administrator -- who, I will tell you, is going to be made permanent," Trump said. "He's done a fantastic job. And I want to congratulate him. EPA, Andrew Wheeler."
Trump's idea of "a fantastic job" certainly won't be mine.  Neither was it Seth Meyers', who did a segment on Wheeler in August: The Check In: Andrew Wheeler and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Seth takes a break from breaking news to check in on the new head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler.
I'm with Seth; going from someone who drank organic juice with kale to someone who drinks Coke does not look like a step up environmentally, but that's just trivial optics, if good comedy.  More important is the take of the Sierra Club, who was quoted by CNN.
"Putting a coal lobbyist like Andrew Wheeler in charge of the EPA is like giving a thief the keys to a bank vault," said Michael Brune of the Sierra Club. "As Acting EPA Administrator, Wheeler has kept his door open to coal, gas, oil and toxic chemical corporations, prioritizing their profits over the health and safety of our families."
Looks like the Sierra Club agrees with Meyers that Wheeler is just as bad for the environment as Pruitt, he's just more patient.

CNN also quoted a Democratic senator on the prospects of Wheeler's confirmation.
"Mr. Wheeler must come before our committee so that members can look at his record as acting administrator objectively to see if any improvements have been made at the agency since he took the helm," Delaware Sen. Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the committee overseeing EPA.
Normally, I'd wish Wheeler good luck, but I don't think he deserves it.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Judge orders White House to return Jim Acosta's press pass

Earlier this week, the White House took away the hard pass it issued to CNN's Jim Acosta.  CNN sued.  This morning, the judge in the case issued a ruling in CNN's favor.  The Hollywood Reporter posted an excellent summary of the case so far in Judge Grants CNN's Motion, Temporarily Returns Jim Acosta's White House Press Pass | THR News.

A District Court judge granted a motion made by CNN and White House reporter Jim Acosta on Friday, temporarily returning the reporter's suspended press pass while the case proceeds.
Note that THR reported that the judge is a Trump appointee and that this was about due process as much as it was about press freedom.  That does show that at least courts are still functioning as institutions protecting the rule of law.  That's a point that also appears in CNN's analysis of the breaking story, Judge orders White House to return Jim Acosta's press pass.

Federal judge Timothy J. Kelly sided with CNN on Friday, ordering the White House to reinstate chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta's press pass.
While CNN is hardly a neutral source, being a party to the action, I think it did a good job of reporting and analysis.

I'll do my best to continue following this story, which is an important one for press freedom and holding government accountable.  Stay tuned.

'The Daily Show with Trevor Noah' takes on the Florida recount

I may be done with Michigan's election results, but I'm not done with the election.   Neither is "The Daily Show with Trevor Noah."  Watch Florida's Midterm Election Drama

Between incompetent election officials, poorly designed ballots and outdated machinery, it’s no wonder the Florida recount is a huge mess.
Good lord, what's with Florida and recounts made worse by incompetence, partisanship, and poor technical support?  Don't answer; it's one of my rare rhetorical questions.

The recount drama is not over, as Fox 47 reports Hand recount underway in Florida US Senate race.

A machine recount that ended Thursday showed Republican Gov. Rick Scott narrowly leading.
I expect Rick Scott will eventually win.  In the meantime, I anticipate more bizarre news out of Florida.  That's normal.  I wrote six years ago  "this is Florida, which is known for the crazy news it produces.  As an expatriate Californian, I'm perversely glad that it had the insane reputation that it does; it makes California, especially southern California, look good."  I'd say "Florida, stay crazy" except that this is one of those cases where The Sunshine State is causing trouble for the rest of us and not just being entertainingly weird.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

America Recycles Day

Happy America Recycles Day!  Since I have been celebrating this day off and on since 2013, but have never shared the description of the day from National Day Calendar before, here it is.
Each year on November 15, millions of people across the United States take part in America Recycles Day, a day which was created to raise awareness about recycling and the purchasing of recycled products.


Recycle, buy recycled goods and help teach others the benefits of recycling and continue to do so each day! Use #AmericaRecyclesDay to post on social media.


America Recycles Day was started in 1997 by the National Recycling Coalition and is declared each year by Presidential Proclamation, encouraging Americans to commit to recycling.  Since 2009, this day has been a program of Keep America Beautiful.  There are thousands of events that are held across the United States to raise awareness about the importance of recycling and offering personal pledges that can be signed, committing to recycling and buying products made from recycled materials.
Just as I did for World Diabetes Day yesterday, I have videos about the day and recycling to share.  Follow over the jump!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

World Diabetes Day

Today is World Diabetes Day, a day that has become special to me because I am a Type I diabetic.  I begin the celebration by being a good environmentalist and recycling the day's description from National Day Calendar.
Around the globe on November 14, World Diabetes Day raises awareness and provides education concerning a disease that affects over 400 million adults internationally.

According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), by 2040 approximately 642 million adults will have diabetes. With diabetes causing 5 million deaths in 2015, this projection is a source of concern. Awareness, education, action and research all can make a difference.


Visit to learn more about both type 1 & 2 diabetes.  Find out how to get screened, to prevent type 2 diabetes and more about treatment.  Use #WorldDiabetesDay to share on social media.


The International Diabetes Federation & the World Health Organization created World Diabetes Day in 1991 to raise awareness of the rising threat of diabetes around the world. In 2006, the day became one of the official United Nations Days.
Continuing on, I'm sharing three videos from World Diabetes Day on YouTube.  First, What is diabetes?

415 million people worldwide, or 9% of adults aged 20-79, are estimated to have diabetes. If these trends continue, by 2040 some 642 million people will have diabetes.
Next, Do you know the symptoms of diabetes?

The development of type 1 diabetes is usually sudden while the symptoms can often be mild in people with type 2 diabetes, making type 2 of diabetes hard to detect. If you show these signs and symptoms, consult a health professional.
I had sudden onset of all these symptoms except the lack of energy on August 21, 2017, the day of the Great American Eclipse.  That certainly made the day even more memorable, although not in a good way.

I conclude with a video about the 2016 World Diabetes Day theme, eyes on diabetes, What is diabetic retinopathy?

The increased prevalence of diabetes means that more and more people are developing diabetes complications, such as diabetic retinopathy.
Ugh, another reason to keep my blood sugar controlled, although I worry more about my feet.

Tomorrow is another national day, America Recycles Day.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Delivering donuts on World Kindness Day

Happy World Kindness Day!  I begin by being a good environmentalist and recycle what I quoted last year from National Day Calendar.
On November 13 as part of World Kindness Day, we are encouraged to spread kindness like an infectious cold. We want to share it more than usual because studies show when others observe kindness in action they are more likely to carry out an act of kindness, too.

So, imagine if you head out for the day and your neighbor’s garbage can has tipped over. Instead of ignoring it and letting the wind make a mess, you pick it up and return it to the corner. Three other neighbors notice and give you a smile and a nod on their way to work.

One of those neighbors notices a stranded driver on the side of the road on his commute to work. He remembers your thoughtfulness and offers assistance to the stranded driver. Several passersby take notice.

At a business office, a woman struggles with a paper jam. She’s had a horrible day. The customer has been waiting, but she remembers the stranded driver she passed earlier in the day. The customer lets the office worker know to take her time. Everyone has a bad day.

We each have the potential to improve each others lives through understanding and kindness. Whether it’s a friend, family member, coworker or stranger, our ability to show our humanity should have no limit.


On World Kindness Day, let your compassion shine brightly.  Get caught showing as much kindness as possible.
Last year, I documented the  World Dance for Kindness.  Today, I follow WKYC reporter Jasmine Monroe as she picks up and delivers donuts to public workers who make the world a better, safer place.  First, Monroe picks up the donuts in World Kindness Day 2018: How to make the world a better place.

Nov. 13, 2018: We take part in World Kindness Day throughout Cleveland.
Next, Monroe is Spreading the smiles on World Kindness Day: Cleveland Fire Department.

Nov. 13, 2018: We dropped by the Cleveland Fire Department with a special delivery for World Kindness Day.
Monroe makes her final stop in World Kindness Day in Rocky River: Thanking school bus drivers.

Nov. 13, 2018: In honor of World Kindness Day, we sent Jasmine Monroe out to thank some school bus drivers in Rocky River.
These videos made being kind look fun.  I hope my readers follow Monroe's example.  Just don't give any donuts to me.  I can't have any because of my diabetes.  Speaking of which, World Diabetes Day is tomorrow.  Stay tuned!

R.I.P. Stan Lee

CBS News brings the sad tidings that Marvel legend Stan Lee has died at 95.

Stan Lee, the legendary Marvel Comics co-creator and publisher, has died at 95. Gamespot Editor-in-Chief Randolph Ramsay joins CBSN to discuss Lee's legacy.
For more about his legacy, PBS NewsHour explains How Stan Lee helped 'revolutionize' comic books.

We remember Stan Lee, writer and editor of Marvel Comics and creator of iconic characters as Spider-Man, the X-Men, Black Panther and the Fantastic Four. William Brangham has the story of this pop culture legend.
That's about Lee as a comics creator.  Beyond the Trailer discusses his effect on the movies as well in Stan Lee dead at 95 - Tribute.

Stan Lee Tribute today. Beyond The Trailer's breakdown of Stan Lee's history and legacy at Marvel on his death at 95. Excelsior!
Stan Lee Dead at 95, Tribute today. Beyond The Trailer host Grace Randolph's breakdown of Stan Lee's legacy and his history at Marvel. Why Stan Lee was a comic book legend and figurehead. Share your own reaction to Stan Lee's death and his history at Marvel.
Thank you, Grace, for pointing out how Stan Lee made comics an accepted staple of American culture.  It was exactly the angle I was looking for.

Speaking of angles, Grace asked for the personal reactions of her viewers.  Mine was that I was never a fan of Marvel Comics — I preferred DC Comics — but I became a fan of Marvel movies, enough so that I have a Marvel label on this blog.  That's in large part because of the commercial success of Marvel movies, as Deadline pointed out.
In lieu of moving upward to a more respectable medium, Lee helped transform the four-color American comic book into a powerhouse of pop culture creation and a major concept factory for Hollywood.

In fact Marvel’s three most recent blockbusters, all released over a mere five months, were adaptations of Lee creations — Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Ant-Man and the Wasp — and have grossed more than $3.7 billion, nearly matching the price Disney paid for Marvel in 2009. Since that purchase, Marvel has generated six of the top 20 global-grossing films, topped this summer by Infinity War crossing the $2 billion mark. On television, Marvel heroes are featured in 10 live-action series (spread across ABC, Fox, Netflix, FX, Hulu and Freeform) as well as five more animated franchises.
Speaking of the popularity of Marvel movies, Deadline reported on their wins at the People's Choice Awards, which took place the day before Lee's death.
Marvel conquered the film side with Avengers: Infinity War winning Movie of 2018...The Marvel Cinematic Universe saw multiple wins with Scarlett Johansson winning Female Movie Star of 2018 and Black Panther stars Chadwick Boseman and Danai Guriria winning Male Movie Star and Action Movie Star of 2018 respectively.
Congratulations to all the winners.  That fulfills my promise to "[write] about the winners of the 2018 People's Choice Awards" that I made in 'RBG' wins Best Political Documentary, 'Won’t You Be My Neighbor?' Best Documentary, at least for now.

In the meantime, thank you Stan Lee for making the world a more fun place.  Excelsior!

Monday, November 12, 2018

Sears and KMart open on Thanksgiving, plus Sears warranties during bankruptcy, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse

I ran across a couple of other news items while putting together Sears Holdings to close 40 more stores during bankruptcy, a tale of the Retail Apocalypse.  First, Wochit News reported Bankrupt Sears And Kmart Are Kicking Off Their Black Friday Sales On Thanksgiving.

It has been a rocky run for Sears and its sister store, Kmart. In October, parent company Sears Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announced it would be closing more than 100 stores before the end of the year.

But it's not giving up without a fight. The beleaguered chain is ramping up for the holiday shopping season and reminding customers that it's still very much open for business.

This year, Kmart stores will be open from 6 a.m. to midnight on Thanksgiving, before reopening at 6 a.m. on Black Friday — a slight extension on last year's opening hours. Most Sears stores will open at 6 p.m. on Thanksgiving and close at midnight, then reopen at 5 a.m. on Black Friday.

Shoppers should expect to see some big discounts, especially as the company looks to clear inventory from the 142 stores that it said it would be closing before year-end.
Oh, my, the stink of retail desperation is strong with this one — not that I blame Sears Holdings.  The company and its creditors need every dime they can get.  They just won't get any from me, as Black Friday is Buy Nothing Day for me.

Next, Fox 47 asked Will Sears honor your appliance warranty during its bankruptcy?

Many Sears customers have warranties and service plans. How safe are they?
Consumers are finding out that "lifetime warranties" are good for the lifetime of the business, not the lifetime of the item or the customer.

Both of these stories share the same message — Sears and KMart are "not dead yet."

No, but it probably won't be long.